At the January 26 Agenda
Review Session, the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of School
Commissioners reviewed presentations on a variety of subjects including
Autonomy and Innovation, High Ability Learners, operations transparency
and a new school name.

Autonomous Schools Pilot

David Rosenberg of Education Resource Strategies (ERS)
shared an update with Commissioners on progress regarding the implementation of
Autonomy in IPS. ERS and IPS are collaborating to identify the resource
flexibilities that will be available to Autonomous schools and the ways the
district will provide strategic supports. IPS and ERS are in the process of
designing the district’s student-based budgeting system, which will distribute
funds instead of staff allocations to school leaders. These are determined
based on student enrollment and need with increased flexibility for school
leaders to make management decisions.


Student-based budgeting is not a standalone strategy; school
leaders will receive support to make strategic decisions with the
funding they
receive to maximize resources. Principals with a clear vision for their
and a solid implementation plan will receive professional development
supporting enhanced decision-making capabilities including innovative
schedules, staffing solutions and personalized educational supports to
opportunities for their students and staff. Excellent teaching,
learning and cost effectiveness are the guiding principles of the
strategic school design philosophy shared with school leaders by


Principals and members of their
school leadership teams are participating in final interviews with IPS
leadership and ERS representatives this week. Leadership capacity and school
performance are taken into account as well as buy-in from community stakeholders
to support transition to Autonomy.


The principals selected for IPS’ pilot Autonomy cohort will
receive a variety of supports to ensure their success with this increased
flexibility. Monthly team sessions will support school leadership teams in adjusting
their school designs to fit student need and staff capacity; one-on-one
coaching will support school designs, community communications and
implementation plans; joint discussions with ERS and IPS central office leaders
will provide additional resources for principals, along with implementation
guidance throughout the 2016-2017 school year.


Proposed Innovation Restart


Innovation Officer Aleesia Johnson shared updates on two IPS schools, Joyce Kilmer School 69 and Riverside School 44; both were
identified as potential Innovation
schools due to chronically low performance. IPS recommends
employing the Innovation Restart model as an opportunity to revitalize these
school communities. Global
Preparatory Academy
is the proposed partner for Riverside, and Kindezi
is the proposed partner for Joyce Kilmer. Global Prep is a Spanish Immersion
School, while Kindezi’s school plan centers on character education with a STEM


community engagement events have already occurred at both schools to ensure
families are aware of the district’s strategy and plans for school improvement.
Introductory family meetings were held, where the proposed partners were
well-received by attendees. Community meetings and additional opportunities for
stakeholders to provide feedback will continue into the coming school year.
Families and community members are invited to attend follow-up meetings,
participate in feedback surveys on their school’s website and email questions
or concerns to
Community feedback will be incorporated into both potential school models as
planning continues.


action was taken on these schools at Thursday’s session;
steps include negotiating Innovation Agreements for both schools and presenting
them for Board approval. District support will be organized for school
transitions and families will be continuously informed of important
developments. Continued community engagement will ensure stakeholders are
well-informed of the process and all feedback is gathered and incorporated in
school design efforts.


IUPUI recently sent a letter of intent for a proposed model
for Joyce Kilmer; however, the notification did not identify a school leader,
among other key required elements for consideration of an Innovation proposal.
 District leadership is open to discussing the possibility of an
Innovation partnership agreement with IUPUI; and looks forward to learning
about further development of the proposed school model. Superintendent Dr.
Lewis D. Ferebee noted this could be a viable option for a future Innovation
Network School, but more detail is needed. District leadership intends to
continue the conversation with partners at IUPUI, as at least two schools,
according to performance trend data, could be eligible for an Innovation
Restart in the coming year.


Innovation Network School


As the IPS Board of School Commissioners is ultimately
responsible for of our schools, including those that are being operated by
external partners, school leadership teams for our
Innovation Network Schools must share substantive
updates twice annually at public Board sessions. Three Innovation teams presented at the
January Agenda Review Session: KIPP Indy, Phalen Leadership Academy and Enlace.


KIPP Indy is a partner operating
College Prep Middle School and Unite Elementary in the former Julian
Coleman School
110 building. More than 550 students attend
grades K-8 there, and administrators are hopeful the capacity can
expand to 900 students. School leaders shared highlights of the first
including increased staffing for Special Education with strong results
student growth and a strategic adjustment to formative assessments to
academic gains; opportunities for growth include college awareness
programming, building technology and safety infrastructure. You can
review KIPP Indy’s full presentation here.


Leadership Academy
shared updates on the Innovation Network Restart
at Francis Scott Key School 103. Two families joined the presentation to
provide testimonials of the impressive changes noted
at the school in its first semester. First semester highlights include a
school culture shift – utilizing professional development to unite staff
increasing student morale. Opportunities for
growth include trauma and mental health support – additional staff
training endeavors are planned to ensure a more informed instructional
– to better serve
students who are impacted by related challenges.
Phalen Leadership Academy’s full presentation can be read here.


Enlace Academy
serves families on the city’s west side in the former Gambold Prep building.
Highlights shared with Commissioners include strong family support, as 75% of
families have attended at least two of the school’s monthly parent engagement
nights in the first semester. Caring for the mental and emotional health of
students was raised as an ongoing challenge, which will be addressed in the
school’s growing partnership with Peace Learning Center. The full Enlace
presentation can be found here.


High Ability Student Selection

Officer Tammy Bowman presented proposed modifications to IPS qualifications for
High Ability Learners. High Ability students perform at or show the potential
for performing at remarkably high levels of achievement in Math, English/Language
Arts (ELA) or both. The proposed changes to High Ability qualifications were
informed in part by a state goal for every district to qualify at least four
percent of students for these tiered supports. Parents, teachers, district
coaches, field experts and principals participated in focus groups used to
determine the proposed changes to current High Ability qualifications. Training
and ongoing supports for principals, teachers and Parent Involvement Educators
would aid the transition to new requirements.


district’s current identification qualifications consider students whose ELA or
Math scores are at or above the 95th percentile as High Ability.
Additionally, students whose ELA or Math scores are in the 80th to
94th percentile and receive a Teacher Rating Scale in the 95th
percentile qualify as High Ability. All First and Fifth Grade students are
screened for High Ability performance, but students of any age may be nominated
for consideration.


proposed qualifications categorize High Ability students in three
classifications: Moderately, Strongly and Exceptionally High Ability. Students
performing at or above the 96th percentile would qualify as
Exceptional, students within the 89th to 95th percentile
would be Strong and those within the 77th to 88th
percentile would be Moderate. Educating gifted students is addressed
congruently with attending to other special instructional need categories.
Deputy Superintendent for Academics Dr. Wanda H. Legrand, shared additional
context for the proposal, “A teacher’s ability to intimately understand
individual students’ capacity to benefit from instructional rigor allows
him/her to plan lessons more strategically and group students in ways that will
best serve their unique learning needs.” The proposed High Ability program
modifications would ensure that more students receive targeted supports for
High Ability Learners in classrooms across the district. In response to
concerns expressed by Commissioners about potentially expanding the types of
academic labels, Bowman further clarified that “students would not be impacted
by the proposed designations other than to benefit from more enriching
instructional experiences.” No additional teachers would be required, as “High
Ability students are supported in their general education classrooms through
teacher-differentiated instruction,” said Bowman.


with students who qualify for High Ability instruction in both Math and
Language Arts and are interested in a target-rich learning environment for this
exceptionality are invited to apply to attend Sidener Academy for High Ability Students.
For questions about enrollment or the many exciting IPS choice options, please
call the Office of Enrollment and Options at 317.226.4000 or click here.


Supplier Diversity Report


In October the Board approved a
proposed revision of the district’s Supplier Diversity Policy. The amended
policy reflects the inclusion of veteran-owned businesses as group for which
IPS should maximize engagement. In the spirit of maintaining transparency in
our operations, Chief Financial Officer Weston Young presented a report on
Supplier Diversity initiatives for 2015. In the last year, IPS spent
$4,017,459.37 in goods and services from Women and Minority-Owned Businesses.
Data is not currently available for Veteran-Owned Businesses; the
identification and measurement process for this category is in development and
will be shared with Commissioners at a future public session.


Visual and Performing Arts
School Name


Commissioners reviewed a
proposal to change the name of the building currently known as Key Learning
Center. The building’s original name – also located on prominent signage
– is Thomas Edison School 47, but is commonly known by the current name associated
with the Multiple Intelligences magnet program. As the instructional
program at the school shifts from Multiple
Intelligences program to K-8 Visual and
Performing Arts for the 2016-2017 school year,
it is recommended that the name changes to Edison School of the Arts – a name
developed and recommended by community stakeholders of the current elementary
arts program.


“I think history matters,”
Commissioner Kelly Bentley said of the proposal’s incorporation of the
building’s original name. “Schools were named for specific reasons, and I think
we should honor that.”


At the January 28
Action Session, the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of School Commissioners
took action on an innovative data service, support for a citywide education
initiative and the name of the district’s new Visual and Performing Arts
elementary school.



Edison School of
the Arts

approved a new name for the building currently known as Key Learning Center.
The building’s original name – indicated by prominent signage on the building’s
facade – is Thomas Edison School 47. The instructional program at the school
will shift from the Multiple Intelligences focus to a K-8 Visual and Performing
Arts program for the 2016-2017 school year. Families and community stakeholders
associated with the current
elementary arts program
recommended that the school’s name change to Edison
School of the Arts – reflecting the history of the building as well as the
program that will be housed within it.



The Board voted to
approve the acceptance of a $100,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation to fund three projects intended to enhance the city’s current
collaboration efforts in K-12 education. Funding will be used to support the
transition to a “district-as-service-provider” model – wherein schools receive
support services from the central office rather than mandated directives,
develop & implement a common school performance framework to asses school
quality holistically and provide for continued study of a unified enrollment
system. As district efforts continue to establish a district portfolio of
autonomous schools
and to expand Innovation Network Schools to provide a
wider range of choice options for families
– key initiatives outlined
within IPS Strategic Plan 2015
– it is necessary to augment the efforts of the IPS Innovation Office. The
Gates Foundation Grant will fund a position that will directly support those
efforts. The compact submitted to the Gates Foundation is supported by IPS and
its current and prospective Innovation
Network partners
including Enlace Academy, KIPP Indy, Phalen Leadership
Academy, Westside Community Middle School, Global Preparatory Academy and
Kindezi Academy. To follow the latest developments on Autonomy in IPS, click here.



also approved a partnership with the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE)
making IPS one of five districts statewide to pilot the new “INmyschool” data
application program. INmyschool will allow IPS to pull student and school data
from multiple systems into one, easy-to-use format with different platforms for
central services, principals, teachers and families. Data dashboards
provide a customer-friendly interface to produce student reports, improve
communication with families, and create customized reports to inform
decisions based on this valuable data. The program will be provided to IPS at
no cost for the pilot year, and there is no requirement for participation in
subsequent years.